Mandi Dailey

Payson Elementary School teacher Mandi Daley with a fish she caught at Bear Canyon Lake.

Get ready, Memorial Day is this weekend.

That means even more visitors to the Rim Country. Pickup trucks and trailers will be loaded with the weekend necessities for the perfect camping trip in the high country.

The great majority of these vehicles will have a variety of fishing rods strapped on top or have them flapping in the wind from a boat in tow.

Trout fishing will be high on the list in one of our many streams and lakes that have been stocked by the Tonto and Canyon Creek fish hatcheries.

Many campers will be first-time fishing license holders hoping to have the thrill of catching a rainbow, tiger, or Gila trout. If they are successful, the chance of them returning soon to the Rim Country is almost a guarantee.

The photos of the first trout or the “big one” and the memories created will be revisited until the next trip to the high country of Arizona.

The COVID-19 virus has also increased markedly the number of families camping in our national forests, especially near lakes and streams teeming with trout. There has been a definite increase in the number of Arizona fishing licenses sold to first-time anglers.

Consequently, the AZGFD hatcheries have increased the number of trout stocked into the most popular waters. The goal is to retain the first-time license holders to be lifelong anglers in Arizona.

I have had a fishing license for 55 years and the thrill of having a trout fighting on ultralight spinning gear or a 4 weight fly rod has not diminished.

Then, there is always the pursuit and adrenaline rush of catching the “big one” which often requires long trips to distant lakes and streams. Catching fish, catches on.

Mandi Daley, a Payson Elementary School teacher was introduced to Rim Country trout fishing just a few weeks ago by her friend, Tony McNeeley.

She had never caught a trout or had a fishing license and knew nothing about fishing until, Tony invited her on a trip to Bear Canyon Lake.

This lake is a bit off the beaten path and requires eight miles of driving on the unpaved FS 300 road. The extra time spent driving beyond Woods Canyon is worth it.

For a first time license holder like Mandi, the fishing was fantastic. The trout were taking any lure or bait that was presented and the action was continuous for most of the day.

Bear Canyon is a walk-in lake where a short quarter-mile hike will put you at the water’s edge. Bank fishing is popular for most anglers, but if you have the energy and stamina a kayak is even better.

But, keep in mind, it is a steep hike back uphill to the parking lot when the day is done.

They have already made plans for the next trip to Bear Canyon and more great trout fishing. Mandi is hooked on trout fishing in Arizona. Catching fish, catches on for first-time anglers and yes, even an old guy like me.

This weekend introduce someone to the thrill of catching a trout in the Arizona high country, God’s creation.

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